tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC November 5, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
congressmen introduced bills to block what d.c. decided to do. in 2011, republicans in congress blocked d.c.'s own locally decided, locally funded abortion policy. now they're doing it again. d.c. votes to legalize pot just as republicans sweep to power in the senate and expand their majority in the house. remember the whole republican mantra about local control getting the boot of federal government off our necks? butt out? this is the test. does the new republican majority in congress let d.c.'s new pot law stand or do they try to undo it? d.c. officials are going to have to accepted this to congress for a review very shortly. that will be another test of what this new washington is going to be like. today is day one. it's going to be fascinating. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> good evening. i'm glad you binged watch "alpha house" last night. i did that recently, too, and i discovered the amazing performance of rachel maddow in
one of the episodes of season two. there is now a new best actor from the cable news world among us. >> i was so -- i was in the last episode. i was so beery eyed by the time i got there, even i liked it. thank you, lawrence. >> well, the senate is now two months away from having a new majority leader. one of the real masters of the senate is here to tell us what to expect from majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> .another american people sent a message. >> i got a call from the president. >>ern w everyone who voted, i w you to know i hear you. obviously the republicans haed a good night. >> now they have an obligation to help govern. >> he's going to the the hardest job in washington. >> regulatory abuse, lawlessness, abuse of power, the
irs, benghazi. >> they expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. >> reagan never had the house, lyndon didn't have the house or the senate. >> this is a wave election, but not a mandate election. >> whey they punish the democrats more than the republican. >> why don't you get a drink with mitch mcconnell. >> let's go live to mitch mcconnell. after the senate, that's what some observers called lbj now. but no one called lyndon johnson that when he was the majority leader. first, it's very hard, even for senators to see how well a majority leader does the job, because most of the job is done
behind closed doors. and y second, in lbj's days. he had a much smaller, much simpler government. medicare and medicaid didn't exist. two of the most important and expensive and complex programs medicare and medicaid never crossed lbj's senate desk. the budget committee didn't exist. no one ever asked lbj how much legislation was going to cost. and if anyone did, he never knew the answer, because back then, no one knew how to even estimate the cost of legislation. the congressional budget office didn't exist. so the majority leader didn't have to come up with complicated ways of paying for legislation that would be acceptable to the cbo. lbj never had to pass a budget resolution or the much more complex omnibus budget
resolution bill, because budget and their companion reconciliation bills had not yet been invented. and luckily for lbj, the senate ethics committee had not yet been invented and it's as if the filibuster had not yet been invented. he had to file zero cloture motions to break filibusters. harry reid has filed 569 cloture motions. mitch mcconnell will soon become the 29th majority leader. and he may have the most difficult challenge within his own party that any majority has ever had since the considerable faction of the republican party is now opposed to virtually everything the government does. opposed, in effect, to governing. mitch mcconnell learned the ways of the senate back when bipartisan cooperation was common and gridlock was rare. in the mid 1980s, senator mitch mcconnell worked repeatedly with
democrats and other republican senators to pass sanction against the apartheid supporting government of south africa. and senator mcconnell did that against the wishes of the most popular republican president of his lifetime, ronald reagan. for people who are hoping mitch mcconnell can switch from being a master of gridlock back to cooperating with opposing parties, there is hope in what mitch mcconnell is saying now, beginning with his gracious comments last night about alison lundergan grimes. >> a little while ago, i spoke to my opponent. she ran a spirited campaign, she earned a lot of votes and she earned my respect. it took a lot of guts to take on a race like this. because of the business we're in, it also meant she would take some heat. i admire her willingness to fight as hard as she did.
we need more willingness for people to do that, not fewer. she deserves a lot of credit for it. this was certainly a hard fought contest. >> in a press conference today, senator mcconnell said this -- >> earlier today, i got a call from the president. senator reid and the speaker and ted cruz, too. which i thought you would be interested in. i would like to remind people divided government isn't unusual in this country. we've had it frequently, i think more often than not, since world war ii. when americans choose to divide government, i don't think it means they want us to do anything. i think it means they want us to look for areas of agreement. >> joining me now, one of the
real masters of the senate, former senator george mitchell. can't thank you enough for being with us tonight. i used to sit there in the back benches, marveling at every move that we understood. i want to read something that the majority of the leader of the senate said today about mitch mcconnell hp i think mitch is going to go for history. he's had to play the game and do what he had to do to get where he is, but he has a chance now for however long to make history. this is his real chance to get some real traction and to make a mark. do you agree with senator daschle? >> i'm not quite as optimistic about the results, although i don't doubt senator mcconnell's intelligence, which is very high. i know him quite well. worked with him while i was in the senate. he's a very smart man and senator.
the problem is that first, the position of majority leader is far more difficult than the position of minor lity leader. it's a fact of life in american politics and particularly in the senate that it's a relatively easy task to gain cohesion when you're in the minority. it is an extraordinarily difficult task to gain cohesion when you're in the majority. for one thing you have more people, harder to get. >> you have 57 democrats. >> 55. 55, yeah. and that was not nearly as tough a time as it is now. it was 20 years ago, it seems like three centuries ago in terms of the pace of american politics. and the differences that occur. the second is that there are real differences. this is not just all politics. politics is included. but there are clearly substantive differences in
american life. attitudes to what the government should or shouldn't do. >> hard for people to believe, but sometimes these senators mean what they say. they are opposed. >> i think there was a tendency to underestimate the degree of genuine conviction when people disagree with you. i take it at face value because i confronted it very often. however, i think on the plus side, the area where tom daschle may have been referring to is that there are plainly some area where is they are in the mutual self-interest of both sides to get together to resolve problems. senator mcconnell specifically said there would be no government shutdowns. he has a clear personal and political interest in there not being a government shutdown. that's not true of all republicans.
it's a small thing you think not to shut down the government, but if you can agree on a budget, that's a big thing. if you can agree not to shut down the government, that's a step forward. and there are specific issues on which the parties have a mutual interest. both in terms of their commitment to the national interest and a commitment to their political interests. immigration comes immediately to mind. the republican party position on immigration was devastating to them in the last presidential election and will be again unless they find a way to moderate it. the effect isn't felt in midterm elections for a whole variety of reasons, political and other. >> they have a political interest in resolving it in addition to a genuine national interest. democrats have a strong political and national interest. so it's not hard to see the possibility of reaching agreement there. >> does it help that president obama will not be running for reelection and what republicans choose to do can't help
president obama's personal political forchups? >> i don't think they'll think in those terms. i think they're thinking more about hillary clinton than president obama. if you're watching the news like i do, i'm not an insider. but i think that motivation will be their self-interest. and i think it's a good thing that there is an interest in dealing with an issue like that. and there's several others. but there's going to be a lot of difficulty, a lot of areas where compromise is not possible. remember, to pass a bill, you don't just need the senate and the president, you still need the house. and the house is even more conservative than it was the last time. and i think you're going to see some differences between the majority of republicans in the senate and the majority of republicans in the house, as well as internally in each party. so it's a tough task. i wish them very well and i hope what i just said about the areas that do exist for some compromise, they're able to act
on and find out this as well. >> i want to take us back where the president made a joke about having a drink with mitch mcconnell and see how that also came into play today. let's watch this. >> some folks still don't think i spend enough time with congress. why don't you get a drink with mitch mcconnell, they ask. really? why don't you get a drink with mitch mcconnell. >> are you going to have a drink with mitch mcconnell now? >> you know actually, i would enjoy having some kentucky bourbon with mitch mcconnell. i don't know what his preferred drink is, but my interactions with mitch mcconnell, you know, he has always been very straightforward with me. to his credit, he has never made a promise that he couldn't deliver.
and, you know, he knows the legislative process well. he obviously knows his caucus well. you know, he's always given me, i think, realistic assessments of what he can get through his caucus and what can't. i think we're going to have a productive relationship. >> if you were advising the president on how to deal with mitch mcconnell, a man you know on this personal level, have a drinks level, what would you tell him he needs to do now? >> well irng that the schmoozing part of the -- the criticism of the president i think is a valid one. i don't think there's enough, or at least not enough that's visible. at the same time, i think those who make the argument overstate its effect. >> yes. >> there isn't a member of congress worth his salt who's going to cast a vote because the president put his arm around them or had a drink. but it does reduce the level of hostility and rancor.
on the day i was elected zmat majority leader. the first person i called was bob dole. i went to see him. and i said to him, you've been here 20 years. i'm a newcomer. but i know enough to know that these are tough jobs and we need to trust each other. i'm here to tell you how i intend to behave towards you and ask you to behave towards me in the same way. he was delighted. we shook hands on pretty basic stuff. i wouldn't surprise him, wouldn't embarrass each other. at the same time, we disagreed almost every day. it didn't reduce the number and the substance of the issue, but it reduced the personal rancor and made life a little bit easier than it was. and enabled a little more progress. this highly personal hostile stuff makes work a little bit tougher. so i do think the president should and i think will do more of it. but i don't think we should think that's going to -- >> should the president meet
with the senate majority leader one-on-one? not just as he's going to do with the speaker and this group of four. so it seems to me, i think i would advocate meet him one-on-one. he's in charge of your nominations. he has unique powers that no one else you deal with on the hill has. he's who is going to deliver you an attorney general confirmation or not. i would just try to get something going one-on-one with mcconnell. >> i served as majority leader under a democratic president clinton and before that, under a republican president, first president bush. and i did on occasion with president bush meet one-on-one, a couple of time, they were kind of tough meetings. and i met more often one-on-one with president clinton. because he was of my own party and we strategized more.
what ewe really need to do is figure out the other guy's self-interest and figure out a way, how can i meet that self-interest while meeting the needs of the country? the problem now, lawrence, i'll be frank with you, when i was there, we sat down and said what's the best thing for the country. once you figure that out, you try to figure out the politics. now it's the cart before the horse. what's the politics and once we decide the politics, let's think about what's right for the country. listens is very important. >> coming up, the silver lining in last night's election.
what got buried in the coverage of the senate praps and rand paul's campaign for president got serious today. he's take on hillary clinton now every way he can. ["mony mony" by billy idol kicks in on car stereo] ♪don't stop now come on mony♪ ♪come on yeah ♪i say yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪'cause you make me feel like a pony♪ ♪so good ♪like your pony ♪so good ♪ride the pony the sentra, with bose audio and nissanconnect technology. spread your joy. nissan. innovation that excites. [singing] ♪mony mony i was out for a bike ride. i didn't think i'd have a heart attack. but i did. i'm mike, and i'm very much alive. now my doctor recommends a bayer aspirin regimen to help
in 33 states same-sex couples are allowed to receive marriage licenses immediately. a district judge also ruled that kansas' band was unconstitutional but that ruling has been stayed for another week. alaska, oregon and the district of columbia last night joined colorado and washington state in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. in california, voters said yes to proposition 47, which turns low-level felonies like drug possession, shoplifting and forgery to misdemeanors. supporters of that measure say it will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars and reduce unnecessary overcrowding in prisons. voters in washington state passed a measure expanding gun background checks in private sales and transfers. and rejected a separate measure that would have prevented the state from expanding background checks beyond federal law. and the republican states of south dakota, alaska, arkansas
and nebraska all approved measures that increased the minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. illinois voters also passed a nonbinding minimum wage measure that needs to be approved by the state legislature in order to become law. president obama said today that he hopes these minimum wage increases are a sign that it can be done a the federal level. >> that will give about 235,000 americans a raise where republican candidates prevail. that should give us new reason to get it done with a national increase in the minimum wage. >> ed marley earlier this year
signed into law raising seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour. >> how many jobs do you think they will be running out of tun? >> we can't afford not to. this is a city attracting a lot of creative people. it's the fastest growing is i in america, but it's becoming an unaffordable city. if we don't pay people a decent wage. we will not be able to stimulate the economy and be able to grow the way we grow. if to you pay people a decent wage, they're going to buy things. that's going to create more jobs. >> you now are tied for highst minimum wage, because fran last night voted to increase the minimum wage. actually match the trend you started is moving south now.
>> this is hopefully cities showing once again other levels of government how to get things done. >> we saw the party that generally opposes increases in the minimum wage. republicans win senate seats within states, the same voters voted to increase the minimum wage. voters raised a minimum wage. that's 10% more than voted for that republican senate candidate. there are similar numbers. you have an extraordinary wave of people in very conservative states. they did not even go for president obama in 2012. they have elected republicans over and over again. but 60 to 70% of their voters say yes to a minimum wage
increase that the right wing says is going 20 lose jobs. what does that tell you? jobs and the economy is central to republican voters and democrats need to start talking more about jobs and wages and making the middle class and the poor really participants in this economy. >> robert reich, mitch mcconnell himself used to vote for increases in the minimum wage in the senate. what do you think of president obama's point? to transfer the minimum wage energy in the states to translate into the federal legislation? >> i think that's right. it's one thing, with all due respect to mayor murray in seattle and san francisco, it's one thing if seattle and san francisco go for a higher
minimum wage, but when you get alaska and arkansas and south dakota and nebraska going for a higher minimum wage, you know that something is going on in this country. >> mayor murray, it seems that this argument doesn't change. the dynamics of it don't change. this empirical evidence down the road, we raise the minimum wage to $15, here's what happened to our economy, the neighboring economies. here's what happened to unemployment and job migration. will those kind of studies be available for what's happening in seattle? >> i think they're available now. >> it's a model that's destr destroying the middle class. it's making it hard for people
to get a higher education. those kids are not getting the jobs that we need folks to get in our city, to have those creative skills. i actually think the evidence is there. this is a city that has a very innovative job market. there are real challenges, graduating the kids from our schools to get those skbrons it goes right back to that issue of economic equity. and we've got to start some place and cities, i think, once again in this country are showing other levels of government how you can create a more equitable society. >> robert reich, given what you've heard from mitch mcconnell and you now know to be the makeup of the senate. what would you advise the president in terms of where to look for, possible areas of agreement? >> that keystone xl pipeline, that's one of the key things
they're going to want to push. the cola change the president flirted with. they're going to want to push tax reform under a the aegis of tax reform that isn't going to be at all. i tell the president, just beware. don't be seduced by this necessity of compromise. stick to your guns. the democrats learned something, i hoped, about the minimum wage increases in these states and around the country, that the democrats have a powerful message if they err willing to use it. and that is most americans right now don't feel that they're in a recovery. they feel that most of the gains from the economy have gone to the top. and if the democratic party means anything at all, it means bolstering the average american against this tidal wave of big corporate, wall street millionaire economics that isn't working for everybody.
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rand paul versus hillary clinton. hillary clinton, she was a clinton democrat, not an obama democrat. >> senator paul entitled, hillary losers. showing photos of clinton campaigning with democratic campaign ins colluding bruce braley in iowa, michelle nunn, kay hagan. according to last night's nbc news exit polling, 42% of voters think hillary clinton would make a good president in 2016.
63% of the voters do not think she would make a good president. 26% of voters think rand paul would make a good president. and 61% of the votes do not think rand paul would make a good president. joining me now, mike, according to the old math of politics, those two negative numbers on hillary and rand paul mean neither one of them can be president. you can't run against a majority negative number. but these are very, very early and weird numbers to try to use something like this. >> alison lundergan grimes lost
or michelle nunn or whoever else she campaigned for. these defeats can't seriously be laid at hillary clinton's feet. however, rand paul is talking to the right wing base. and he's establishing a meme, and he's establishing a -- he's trying to get it into their heads that he's the guy who's willing to get into the ring and throw punches to the clintons. he's going after bill and hillary clinton. so he's stolen a march on all of ohis competitors who haven't gone off the clintons. he's establishing in the minds of republican base, i'm the guy who's willing to get into the ring with them. i'm in their weight class. >> it seems like a smart way to run in what is now in effect the
republican primaries. because there's no republican base voter who doesn't want to hear something negtive about the possibility of hillary clinton being president, whereas many of them don't want to hear something negative about ted cruz or something neg ative abot every other republican voter who said this. >> that's exactly right. they will talk to one another. paul has ehis eyes on the prize. he's going after the right target. all the others are going to start piling on and doing the same thing that he's done, but he got there first. >> he is saying things that other republican candidates haven't said. listen to what he's saying about being the more welcoming party. we want people we're rings, without ear rins, rip, middle
class, we need to be more diverse. black, white, brown. we haven't been. it's not because we have bad poll spips i never said republicans have bad policies. i said the perception of who we are isn't good and we need to have a better attitude and present a better face to people. >> what is your reaction to that? >> he has problems with portions of the republican base, no question about that. and they don't all like his libertarianism, particularly with respect to foreign policy. but i think when they hear a republican talking about that, they know that republican can make in roads into constituencies that mitt romney certainly wasn't able to. and that a lot of other republicans are able to. it's smart for him to talk about earrings. that's like george wallace invoking the beautician. it's a very smart particular thing. and it does mean and pulse that
i looked at over the last few months have reflected this. rand paul can compete with hillary clinton in a state like colorado in a way other republicans probably cannot. >> thanks for joining me tonight for round one of rand paul versus hillary clinton. thanks. >> thanks a lot. coming up, the day after midterm elections are often b difficult for a president. what president obama did today was a big improvement over what the last democratic president, bill clinton did after his big losses in the midterm election. [singing to himself] "here she comes now sayin' mony mony". ["mony mony" by billy idol kicks in on car stereo] ♪don't stop now come on mony♪ ♪come on yeah ♪i say yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪yeah ♪'cause you make me feel like a pony♪ ♪so good ♪like your pony ♪so good ♪ride the pony
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8 grams protein. zero fat. 17 vitamins and minerals. in delicious blueberry pomegranate and mixed fruit. the president made it clear that he would stand his ground on efforts to repeal or dismantle the affordable healthcare act. the president apologized for nothing he has done as president. unlike bill clinton who said this after his first midterm election when the democrats lost the senate and lost the house
for the first time in 40 years. >> probably people are still mad at me because you think i raised your taxes too much. it might surprise you to know i think i raised them too much, too. >> that was bill clinton in front of the rich texas audience actually apologizing to them for raising the top tax bracket too much. he went on that speech to try to blame that on the democratic congress, which actually raised the top tax bracket to precisely the level bill clinton requested. and the politically disastrous results of president clinton's first midterm did not end on election night. here is an issue that president obama did not have to face today that president clinton faced in his press conference the day after his first midterm election. >> would you have any message for the democrats in congress
like senator shelby who are considering or might be considering switching to the republican party? >> i think he did switch. >> if there are democrats in the house who are considering it? >> well, first of all, let me say that if we can have a bipartisan coalition, then we can be both nonpolitical and more centrist. i ran for president saying that we should not be govern ed by either republicans or democrats who are pushed too far in either direction. most of the good ideas are ideas that take us into the future, not push us left or right. >> so there was president clinton being asked if he had anything to say to democrats thinking about switching parties. and he couldn't think of anything to say to them. and so democrats in congress and all over the country began switching to the republican
party in droves. a total of 137 elected democrats nationwide switched parties in bill clinton's first term. two democratic senators switched parties. richard sehelby is still servin in the senate as a republican. seven democrats in the house of representatives switched party, run age way from what they saw as the curse of bill clinton. there were rumors today that maine's independent senator angus king might decide to switch from caucusing with the democrats to caucusing with the republicans, but no one asked president obama about that, and senator king said this -- to change my alignment to a caucus which at this point appears openly hostile to the president it seems to me would give up an important advantage. there was a heated rumor today that west virginia democrat joe
m manchin, but he shut that down. no, i'm a moderate democrat, proud democrat from west virginia. the president seems proud of restoring some of the progressivety of the tax code by restoring the top clinton income tax rate of 39.6%. and instead of apologizing for that part of his record, clinton style, president obama said this today. >> this country has made real progress since the crisis six years ago. the fact is more americans are working. unemployment has come down. more americans have health insurance. manufacturing has grown. our deficits have shrunk. our dependence on foreign oil is down. as are gas prices. our graduation rates are up. our businesses aren't just
creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 190s, our economy is outpacing most of the world. but we've just got to keep at it. >> president obama's confident pride and accomplishments at his press conference was a welcome rewrite to president clinton's version of dealing with a loss of democratic party power in the congress. >> people in america were restless and impatient and we want to get things done. and when things are going good, we want them to do better. and that's why this is the greatest country on earth. that's why i'm so privileged to have a chance to be president for the next couple of years. all right? thank you, everybody.
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>> for the first time, there will be 100 law makers in the united states senate and house of representatives. adams will become that 100th woman when she is sworn in as the next house member. she was elected in a special election in north carolina's 12th district last night. the seat became open when congressman mel watt resigned to become head of the federal housing finance agency. because alma adams was elected in a special election, she will be sworn in before other house members, possibly as soon as this week. there are currently 79 women in the house of representatives and 20 women in the senate.
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>> for six years we've been trapped in the obama stagnation and malaise. the era of obama lawlessness is over. >> texas senator ted cruz may be happy with last night's election results, but that doesn't mean he's all that happy with the leadership of his party. senator cruz actually refused to say if he will support mitch mcconnell in the role of senate majority leader after mcconnell was reelectriced last night. but mitch mcconnell knows he doesn't need ted cruz's vote. >> [ inaudible ] i'm wondering if you spoke to him. >> you want me to make a prediction for you? a week from tomorrow i will be elected majority leader of the senate. thanks a lot, everyone. >> joining me now is former
republican congressman steve la la lautarette. i'm not going against him in that prediction. >> neither am i. he's going to impress on everyone in the caucus who the majority leader is. and senator cruz can choose to be an outliar, but i think they will attempt to move to isolate him. >> mitch mcconnell made it a point to say that he had spoken to the president and he's spoken to harry reid. and i've never seen anything like this. he made it a point to mention that he had spoken to a very low ranking junior senator, ted cruz. and it's hard to imagine, but i guess ted cruz is hard to imagine. but it's hard to imagine cruz calling mitch mcconnell and not saying something about, well, of course, i'm supporting you for majority leader.
>> it's the same thing in the house, 12 knuckleheads wouldn't vote for john boehner. i think senator cruz is starting to perk up and there are a lot of stories prior to the election about democrats running from president obama, not wanting to be seen with him. well, on the republican side, chris christie was in demand, rand paul was in demand, jeb bush was in demand. nobody really wanted senator cruz to come help them on november 4. and there should be a message in that to him, i hope. >> let's listen to what senator mcconnell said today about having so many possible presidential candidates in his caucus in the senate. >> i know a lot of people are wanting to run for president. what i tell them all is the best day you have will be the day before you announce. i have no problems with people's
ambitious. i serve in a body with a bunch of class presidents. they're all ambitious or they wouldn't be where they are. i'm not troubled by ambition. and i think that we can accommodate that. >> steve, he has con fronted ted cruz in the past and beat him in the government shutdown confrontation and all that stuff. it seems to me that ted cruz has to now be very careful, because he's not just playing around in that comfortable minority status. when i say comfortable, for people who just want to do protest movements on the senate floor. the majority status, it's a different operation. >> well, it very much is a different operation. when you're in the minority in the house or senate, you can be a bouncer or say whatever the hecks if you want. there's a different responsibility in majority.
what i take away from it is the reason it's all about the president's policies is the republicans didn't step in the land lines and nominate crazy people that would become the focus of the elections yesterday. we've got to throw a couple more repeals of obamacare over the white house fence>> it seems to me mitch mcconnell is going to have to allow one vote on the full repeal of obama -- the affordable care act. democrats might or might not filibuster that we'll see how that goes. >> before he gets down to try to seriously negotiate anything with democrats. >> i was at a program today where 1/2 of the senate is knew. there's a lot of people who have a chance to vote a vote on the
affordable care act. but then there's a lot who don't know how to legislate or offer amendments. i do think you need to have that symbolic vote so nobody from the right said i stood tonight on "all in." >> two-thirds of people who are eligible to vote just didn't vote. >> republicans regain the senate and they're already about to have their first big fight. >> it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. >> as the president promises executive action on immigration. >> before the end of the year, we're going to take whatever lawful actions that i can take, that i believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system. >> plus, we'll look at how all politics are now national and why obstruction works for the republican party. then, the race results you might